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Inside Drones

Inside Drones (Mar 27th, 2019)

1. The first regular commercial drone delivery in the U.S. took place on Tuesday at a hospital campus in North Carolina. UPS and the drone tech company Matternet made the delivery of medical supplies at WakeMed's campus in Raleigh — part a pilot program launched by the Federal Aviation Administration to test new ways to practically use drones and expand them safely into U.S. skies. UPS will start using the Matternet-manufactured drones to deliver blood and other lab samples from local hospitals, clinics and doctors offices to WakeMed's lab. Tuesday's flight cut down the time it took to transport by courier car from about half an hour to three minutes. In a statement, UPS noted that drones can lower costs, speed up flights, avoid traffic delays, and increase delivery efficiency. - FORTUNE

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2. Lockheed Martin is sponsoring an A.I. drone racing competition that will award $1 million to the winning team. In a recent article, The New York Times covered the Drone Racing League’s AlphaPilot competition and the challenges facing artificial intelligence in the sector. (Human drone pilots can still beat their A.I. counterparts in drone racing, although that may not be the case in the future, as Drone DJ notes). In 2017, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory built three A.I. drones and raced them against pilot Ken Loo, who "easily beat them all," according to The Times. - NYTIMES

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3. Researchers will use drones to collect data on severe storms in the U.S. Midwest. More than 50 scientists and students from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and three other universities will launch the study, known as the Targeted Observation by Radars and UAS of Supercells, in mid-May. The project will use four drones, along with other systems, to amass data on supercell thunderstorms, which are the most likely to spawn a tornado. “If there’s a supercell thunderstorm anywhere in the region, we hope to be there,” lead investigator Adam Houston, associate professor of atmospheric science at UNL, said. - LINCOLN JOURNAL-STAR

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4. The U.S. Marines Corps is testing disposable drones that can transport cargo weighing up to 1,500 pounds. Logistic Gliders Inc. developed the one-time-use drone, which can fly either autonomously or be piloted remotely. The smaller drone, known as LH-1K, can carry up to 660 pounds of cargo, while the larger LG-2K can hold 1,500 pounds or more. Once the wooden drone lands, either by belly landing or parachute, the cargo can be retrieved and the drone left to decompose. - PC MAG

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5. Australia will require pilots to obtain a flyer's license and register their drones, which is expected to crack down on illegal drone flights in the country, starting in July.

6. Salesforce Ventures invested an undisclosed amount in Kespry, a subscription-based industrial drone service with a focus on mining and aggregates.

7. Police deployed a drone to watch over — and later arrest — a suspected drug dealer who fled from officers in Arlington, Texas.

8. Drone manufacturer DJI published a video showing how to downgrade a drone’s firmware with the DJI Go 4 app.

9. U.S. Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) is urging the U.S. Army to maintain and possibly expand its Fort Huachuca base as a training ground for drones. The base in southeast Arizona is reportedly at the top of a list of sites under consideration for bigger drone training operations.

10. A Pentagon memo said that records about the Project Maven drone initiative cannot be released to the public, as they constitute “critical infrastructure security information.” The Department of Defense project, formerly led by Google, involves developing AI surveillance tools to analyze drone footage.

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Written and curated by Beth Duckett in Orange County. Beth is a former reporter for The Arizona Republic who has written for USA Today, Get Out magazine, and other publications. Follow her tweets about breaking news in southern California here.

Editing team: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside); Susmita Baral (senior editor at Inside, who runs the biggest mac and cheese account on Instagram); and David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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